December 13, 2017

Buche de Noel

Yule Log with Mocha Buttercream

The buche de Noel or yule log wih mocha buttercream frosting

Janine Pineo Photo | The buche de Noel or yule log wih mocha buttercream frosting

A slice of the buche de Noel or yule log with mocha buttercream frosting.

Janine Pineo Photo | A slice of the buche de Noel or yule log with mocha buttercream frosting.

I first made this dessert when I was in high school. I remember making it specifically one year for my French class because it had a French name.

It was a huge hit.

This is a simple dessert to make. It looks complicated but after you’ve done the first one, you’ll see how easy it is to make a dessert that looks complex but is actually simple and elegant.

And after you taste the mocha buttercream, it is possible that your life may never be the same again.

I should know. I keep making it.

The cake takes only about 10 minutes to become a golden brown.

Janine Pineo Photo | The cake takes only about 10 minutes to become a golden brown.

Buche de Noel

Cake roll

6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
6 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Roll the cake gently but firmly into the wax-paper-lined towel.

Janine Pineo Photo | Roll the cake gently but firmly into the wax-paper-lined towel.

Mocha buttercream

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 tsp. instant coffee crystals
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sweet butter

Set out eight eggs (six for cake and two for buttercream) to warm and the two sticks of butter to soften as you prepare to make the yule log.

It helps to measure out dry ingredients in separate bowls prior to starting because they need to be added gradually while mixing.

The cake is rolled into shape to cool.

Janine Pineo Photo | The cake is rolled into shape to cool.

Cake roll:

Prepare a jelly roll or cookie sheet pan with shortening and flour (or Pam baking spray) and line with waxed paper or parchment. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Separate the six eggs, placing yolks in one mixing bowl and the whites in the second.

In mixer bowl, beat the six yolks until light. Add sugar gradually and beat until very creamy. Blend in vanilla and salt.

After spreading buttercream, roll the cake back into a log.

Janine Pineo Photo | After spreading buttercream, roll the cake back into a log.

Gradually add flour and baking powder into yolk mixture. (You can sift if you want, but I never do.)

Clean your mixer blades thoroughly if you only have one set before beating egg whites.

Beat egg whites (room temperature is best) until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form (not dry). This should take a couple of minutes if whites are at room temperature.

Fold whites gently into egg yolk mixture. Do not stir or beat with mixer, but fold in with large bowl scraper or mixing spoon.

Cut off both ends of cake to create "knots" that are attached with buttercream.

Janine Pineo Photo | Cut off both ends of cake to create “knots” that are attached with buttercream.

Pour batter into pan and very carefully spread it to fill pan. Try to spread it as evenly as possible so that there are no thin spots. (Because the batter is elastic-like with all those eggs, it “stretches” to fill pan differently than regular cake batter. You will understand when you try to do this.)

Place in the preheated oven. It will take about 10 minutes for the cake to bake and become just golden on the top. At most, it might take 12 minutes to get a nice golden cast.

While it is baking, take a linen hand towel and slightly dampen. Place it between two sheets of wax or parchment paper. The cake will be rolled up into this to cool.

When the cake is done, turn it onto the lined towel. Carefully remove the wax paper from the bottom of the cake, using a knife to help separate the paper from the cake. Take your time so that you don’t rip the cake in two.

Carefully start rolling up paper, towel and cake. Not so tight that it will mash cake, but so that there is not any air between layers as you roll.

Set rolled log aside to cool as you make buttercream.

Mocha buttercream:

In a small pan, place baking chocolate and melt on low heat. Set aside to cool.

Beat 2 eggs until light.

Combine sugar and water in small saucepan and cook to soft-ball stage (234 degrees).

Beating constantly, gradually but rapidly add the boiling sugar mixture to the eggs and then beat until cold. This might take a couple of minutes or it might take longer to cool.

Add vanilla and coffee crystals.

Blend in melted chocolate.

After thoroughly mixing, add the first stick of room-temperature butter and carefully beat it. Add the second stick and beat thoroughly.

The buttercream should be smooth and creamy, not runny. If it is thin, then it just needs to be cooled some more. Set bowl in cold water and beat until it thickens enough to be of spreading consistency.

Assembling the log:

Unroll cooled cake. Spread with buttercream, using less than half of the mixture. Remember it will ooze out of the edges so you don’t have to frost all the way to each edge.

Roll the cake up again. If you want “knots,” take a sharp knife and carefully cut off each end of the log. Set the pieces aside.

Place the remaining log on a serving plate or platter. Cover with buttercream and then place the knots on the cake wherever you like.

Cover the knots with buttercream.

Once the cake is completely covered with the buttercream, take a fork and use the tines to make the frosting look like bark. Swirl in the cut ends to make it look like rings of the wood.

Serving the cake:

This cake can be served almost immediately, although the flavor is better after a few hours as the cake absorbs the buttercream.

Keep the cake at room temperature or in a cool place. It should be fine for a couple of days.

It can be refrigerated after that, but keep in mind that the butter in the buttercream will become much more solid in the refrigerator and will not go back to its smoother consistency that it had at room temperature. It still tastes great, however.

– Janine Pineo